16 Oct 2016
Nineteen teams started the Yachting Developments New Zealand Match Race Championship. The change of format has seen the regatta double
in size from 8 teams in last year’s event to nineteen teams this year. Reigning champion Chris Steele and his crew retained their title for the second year in three straight matches.
Pool A group consisted of some other big names including CYCA’s Evan Walker (KA Racing). After four races were complete it was however, the young guns who finished top of the Pool. The RNZYS Youth Training Programme team helmed by 21 year old Matthew Hughes finished first overall with 3 seconds and one fourth place. Second overall in Pool A was Australian David Chapman with Steele and Walker tied for third place. Alan Quere from Noumea rounded out the top five teams.
Pool B with was dominated by RNZYS Performance Programme Coach Graeme Sutherland with three wins and one second place. Second in Pool B was Olympic Bronze Medallist Sam Meech. Third overall was Jeremy Koo (KRT Sime Darby Foundation) representing Malaysia assisted with some local knowledge from RNZYS Sailing Director Laurie Jury onboard. In fourth and fifth place were YTP Graduate David Wood and another Youth Training Programme team skippered by George Anyon. At the completion of racing for both Pools, Sutherland sat in first with Hughes in second and Chapman in third.
Semi Finals action kicked off with Graeme Sutherland choosing to sail against Sam Meech whom he beat 3-nil. In the other Semi Final Chris Steele raced Australian David Chapman with Chapman taking the first race by 2 seconds. Defending champion Steele then quickly bounced back taking the next three races and claiming his spot in the finals.
Sutherland and Steele raced the finals – in what could not have been a closer first race! In the pre-start Sutherland went for the hook but failed to give Steele enough room and copped a penalty, from then on it was penalties, lead changes, luffing, and trying to shake off penalties. Steele somehow got the inside at the top mark leaving Sutherland behind by 16 seconds. Steele then won the next two races but as Steele commented at this afternoon’s prizegiving ceremony “the score board doesn’t reflect how close the racing was”.
The Petit final also didn’t disappoint with the racing just as close between Sam Meech and David Chapman. Chapman managed to show his match racing experience against the Olympic laser sailor taking the final 2 – nil to claim third place and Meech in fourth
The competitors all agreed the Elliott 7 fleet provided an exciting platform for the racing. Very responsive, fast & providing the close and exciting racing. Yachting Developments Managing Director Ian Cook said “we are very pleased to have supported the event, we hope everyone had a great time and enjoyed the new regatta format.”
Steele also commented on the new format “we really enjoyed it! I think it’s been really well received by the sailors, It also helps us training for the World Match Race Tour”. “We really squeezed as much racing as we could into these last four days.”
Americas Cup Race Officer Harold Bennett who ran the on water operations this week said “I think using the different format is great! And the number of entries is a real testament to that.”
With over 100 competitors and officials involved in this year’s event, organisers felt it was a resounding success. With may new initiatives one of which included live commentary from PJ Montgomery and Sailing Director Laurie Jury during finals day.